Australia Crackdown Hits PokerStars

[image credit : PokerStars]

Computer technology firm Apple Incorporated is prohibiting Australians from downloading a mobile phone app via its App Store from online poker operator PokerStars amid concerns that the real-money innovation is against the law.

According to a report from the Herald Sun newspaper, the mobile app has been available to punters in Australia via the App Store since May of 2012 but was removed on Saturday with Apple blaming the government and ‘local authorities’ while informing players that they could still access the operator’s website for games of online poker.

“Your local authorities are the best point of call for information,” read a statement from Apple.

“As far as we know, it’s a ‘clamp down’ on mobile gaming.”

The Federal Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Department subsequently took responsibility for the action and stated that it had approached Apple over concerns that the PokerStars app was ‘contrary to the provisions of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001’.

“Apple sought to resolve this issue with the app developer,” read a statement from the government department.

“After the developer failed to take action, Apple wrote to the Department to advise that it would remove the PokerStars app from its Australian App Store.”

The Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 forbids online gaming providers from offering their wares to Australians but does not punish those who use these services. The Herald Sun reported that a recent review of the legislation found 2,200 companies were illegally providing gambling in Australia and recommended that online gambling sites be licensed in the country.

“They’re better off giving Australian licenses to the top companies and regulating and taxing online gambling,” said Richard Di Natale, a Senator from the southern Australian state of Victoria and an outspoken critic of the current gambling regulations.

“Nobody’s been prosecuted under the current Act and you can go online and play in Australia so it’s very contradictory.”

The Herald Sun revealed that the PokerStars app remains available to download in Australia via Google Play for use on Android-powered smartphones.

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